A New Look At Challenges in Recovery

"Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful." - Joshua J. Marine, authorQuick question: What does the word challenge mean to you? Is it something that you look forward to with hope and optimism? Or is it something that you dread, fearful of failure, something you put off as long as you can?

There is a middle ground, but that means only going half-way. And we know that whether it's trying to cook a meal or swim in the ocean, exerting only a mediocre effort or quitting right in the middle is likely to bring about disastrous results.

Let's take a new look at the challenges in recovery, from the standpoint that we're all going to experience challenges anyway, so why not change our outlook about them and what they represent? Actually, this makes a great deal of sense in more ways than one.

First, when we decide that we'll regard challenges in a different light, our manner of acting with respect to them changes as well. Once we make the conscious decision that we'll approach challenges with a mind-set that we'll be able to find a way through them, guess what? We will find a way through them.

This is quite the opposite of taking the dim view of whatever comes our way. If we focus on all the bad things that could happen, we're bound to shortcut our efforts relative to any action we might take. We'd be more likely to cut our losses, so to speak, to shirk any responsibility that might be ours and go as far as we can in the direction away from the challenge.

Second, looking at challenges as something other than impending doom or as distasteful as a wisdom tooth extraction, we let a little variety into our life. Rather than get involved with the same old routine, even if the routine has been beneficial to our sobriety, by accepting challenges and moving forward with action to meet them, we're spicing up our daily activities, putting new life in them, and broadening our perspective on the world at the same time.

Third, challenges are what make life interesting. There's absolutely no getting around that. Beyond spicing things up, we open ourselves to new possibilities when we encounter challenges. More often than not, challenges aren't things that we would normally go out of our way to look for. We may be in the practice of isolating ourselves from other people, places and things just so we can avoid as many challenges as possible. But that doesn't make life interesting at all. It pretty much guarantees monotonousness and the risk of stagnating in our recovery. Isn't it a far more appealing way to look at challenges as keeping our life interesting?

Yet, challenges that are interesting are, in and of themselves, not much value if we do nothing about them. Okay, so life presents us with a challenge. We may or may not feel that we're capable of successfully undertaking the challenge. But if we fail to act, we miss out on all kinds of opportunities. It's in the doing that we gain the ultimate reward: the satisfaction of overcoming the challenge and the feeling that our life is more meaningful.

Suppose we are new to recovery and are just deathly afraid of making mistakes, choosing to undertake the wrong opportunities, getting in over our head or just plain acting unwisely? Instead of giving into the fear, we should talk with our sponsor and listen to what others have to say in the rooms. Surely others have been here before and we can learn a lot just by paying attention. Then, proceed slowly. Think about the challenges presented to us and strategize, again with our sponsor, how best to navigate them. Doing something proactive to meet the challenge is much preferred to allowing the opportunity for learning and growth to slip away.

It's worth reminding that we never know when a challenge that is difficult will prove to be the most beneficial to us in the long run. It may open doors to a new career, the chance to meet new people, to gain a different perspective on our long-term goals, even to enhance our overall happiness and sense of purpose in recovery.

Posted on November 24th, 2011
Posted in Articles

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